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Guard your mail from theft. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office. Promptly remove mail from your mailbox after it has been delivered. If you are planning to be away from home and cannot pick up your mail, call the U.S. Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 to request a vacation hold. The Postal Service will hold your mail at your local post office until you can pick it up.
Put passwords on your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily available information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your SSN, your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. Minimize the identification information and the number of cards you carry to what you will actually need.
Do not give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or know who you're dealing with. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers, and even government agencies to get you to reveal your SSN, mother's maiden name, financial account numbers, and other identifying information. Legitimate organizations with which you do business have the information they need and will not ask for it.
Keep items with personal information in a safe place. To thwart an identity thief who may pick through your trash or recycling bins to capture your personal information, tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, bank checks and statements you're discarding, expired charge cards, and credit offers you get in the mail.
Be cautious about where you leave personal information in your home, especially if you have roommates, employ outside help, or are having service work done in your home.
Find out who has access to your personal information at work and verify that the records are kept in a secure location.
Give your SSN only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers when possible.
Do not carry your SSN card; leave it in a secure place.
Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies every year. Check to see whether any additional accounts were opened without your consent or whether unauthorized charges were billed to your accounts. To request free copies of your credit reports as established by federal law: go tohttps://www.annualcreditreport.com